All open space with no place to live |

All open space with no place to live

When the real estate transfer tax was created, let’s think about the pitch that could be provided for speculative real estate investors buying into an already inflated market: What if I could promise you that 1% of the purchase price of your home would go to the county to buy up potentially developable “open spaces”? Wouldn’t that cushion things a bit for you? Decreasing developable land and removing it from potential housing or development inventory will drive up the prices in the long term, and protect your already inflated investment.

So, over the last 30-something years, what’s happened? Open Space and Trails and Aspen Valley Land Trust have purchased over 22,000 acres of land throughout the valley. Manhattan Island is less than 11,000 acres. So that’s two Manhattan Islands worth of land that have been gobbled up by the county and “Land Trust” and removed from the “free market,” thus increasing the values of all the remaining properties by how much?

I mean, the housing does feel a little tight and over 1.6 million people live on less than 11,000 acres of Manhattan. They even have open spaces —843 acres of one of them is the glorious Central Park.

I’m not suggesting we try to increase the population of the Roaring Fork Valley to over 3 million people, but it sure is nice to know that the county owns enough land to house twice the population of Manhattan all by itself; if they could just join forces with the housing program. Funny how there is always another few million dollars to purchase land out of the free market, but not to build more housing for people who need it.

Andrew Scott